Life of a Private Lesson Plan

What challenges did the Continental Army face? Document Analysis

Level:
Elementary, Middle, High

Objective:
Students will read and analyze primary sources in order to learn more about challenges faced by the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

Standards of Learning:
Virginia SOL:  VS1a; VS5.b; US1.1a; US1.6b; VUS.1a; US.4d; English 4.5; English 4.7; English 5.5; English 5.8
National Standards of History: Historical Analysis and Interpretation

Materials Needed for Activity:
Video Segment (45 seconds) – Jeremiah Greenman
Student Handout – Letter from Thomas Nelson, Jr. to Baron von Steuben (Jan. 17, 1781) transcribed
Student Handout – Witnesses to Revolution: Jeremiah Greenman
Student Handout – What supplies did Continental soldiers receive?
Student Handout – What challenges did the Continental Army face?

Teacher background:
Life of a Private background essay
Teacher Handout – Jeremiah Greenman biography

Procedure:
Students will work in pairs to analyze primary source materials and determine the challenges faced by the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

Step 1:  Explain that the students will be learning about difficulties faced by the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Watch the Jeremiah Greenman video segment with the class.

Step 2: Review with students the many ways we learn about the past.  We study artifacts and primary documents such as letters, journals (like Jeremiah Greenman’s), diaries, and drawings.  Today the students will read and analyze one of Jeremiah Greenman’s journal entries and a letter in order to understand the challenges faced by the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

Step 3: Divide the students into pairs and give each pair a copy of the Student Handouts, Witnesses to Revolution:  Jeremiah Greenman and the Letter from Thomas Nelson, Jr. to Baron von Steuben (Jan. 17, 1781).  Have the students read and analyze Jeremiah Greenman’s journal entry and the Thomas Nelson, Jr. letter.  As they read, students should identify and highlight challenges the army was facing.

Step 4: After the students have had time to analyze both documents, distribute copies of the Student Handouts, What supplies did continental soldiers receive? and What challenges did the Continental Army face?  As with the primary sources, ask students to read and highlight the many problems faced by the Continental Army.

Step 5: After students have completed the reading and highlighting, discuss their observations of challenges faced by the Continental Army.  How did the two primary source documents illustrate these difficulties?  The teacher will record student observations on the board.

Summary Activity:
Using the information gained from the document analysis and the essay readings, have each student assume the role of Baron von Steuben and answer the letter written by Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Other Helpful Resources:

Masoff, Joy.  Chronicle of America American Revolution 1700-1800.   New York: Scholastic, 2000.

Heilbroner,Joan. Meet George Washington.  New York: Random House, 1964
(chapters 11- 14).
Lesson plans made possible by Archibald Andrews Marks.